Pounding the Pavement

Oh my God this city is huge.

Today was job interview number 2.
A few days ago I responded to an ad on the internet looking for native speakers to teach English- no experience necessary! I got an e-mail back almost immediately asking if I were available to interview on Thursday.
“Unfortunately,” I wrote back, “on Thursday I will be celebrating Thanksgiving, (America’s biggest secular holiday) with friends so I will not be available to interview. Do you have any availability on Friday?”
I got a reply that Friday would be just fine, at 1, and that the school was located in Şirenevlar, and I could get there from a Metro Bus from Mecidiyeköy. So today I gamely left the house with a piece of paper with the school’s name on it, and the phone number, and underneath I wrote
“Şirenevler- Metro Bus from Mecidiyeköy.”

One of my little quirks that has irritated every man I’ve ever dated or for that matter known, is my inability to consult maps. I’m terrible at visual processing, so maps never make a whole lot of sense to me anyway, and somehow it never occurs to me to look at them when I want to know where something is, or if I’m lost. So I had no idea how far Şirenevler was from me, or whether it was inland or on the coast, or North or South.

I allotted an hour and a half for the trip. Not for any particular reason.

I boarded a ferry for Eminonu, and caught a metro at the dock to Kabatas, where I caught the funicular to Taksim, where I caught another metro to Mecidiyeköy. Then I stood in the rain looking around. It had occurred to me, just then, that I didn’t actually know what a Metro Bus is, or where one finds them. Also, it was already a little after one. I’d been journeying for a little over an hour and a half, and I was late. But it couldn’t be much further, right?
I walked up to people asking,
“Effendim, Şirenevler?” and showing them my scrap of paper.
“Metro Bus!” they said, and one by one shooed me in the right direction until I came to a tunnel labeled “Metro Bus.” I successfully negotiated getting a ticket, and even got on it going the right way. (The Metro Bus, it turns out, is an express bus that has a dedicated lane.) I spent the next forty five minutes miserably rocking. The bus was incredibly crowded and hot, and suddenly the excesses of the previous night, the far-too-much-food and the far-too-much-wine, caught up with me. My tummy lurched in time with the bus. Sweat glazed my face and I knew without looking that I was bright red and my hair was in a frizzy nebulus around my head. I could not believe how far out we were going.
I got off at Şirenevler and looked around in dismay. Şirenevler is a huge shopping district. Why had I assumed I’d just be able to find the school once I got there? Why hadn’t I, I don’t know, GOTTEN THE ADDRESS?!?!?!!!!
I found a bathroom, and felt immeasurably better after using it.
“Well,” I thought, “this is far too far away for work, and I’m an hour late. I should probably get something to eat and go home.” But some deeper, more stubborn impulse took over and I found myself calling the school.
“Hi,” I said when someone picked up, “My name is Sarah Perrich and I have an appointment for an interview with you, and I’m terribly late and I’m sorry. But I’m very close, I just don’t know exactly where you are. Could you tell me how to get to the school, please?”
“Sarah Perrich? I remember you, yes. I sent you instructions for travelling,” a man said impatiently.
I looked down at me scrap of paper.
“Yes, yes, and they were great, and I’m here at the Metro Bus stop-”
“Oh, you are in Şirenevler,” he said curtly, and told me to turn left at the Burger King and that the school was on that road a little ways up on the left.
“See you in a few moments!” I said gratefully, and scurried off.

The impatient man met me at the door and took me to a roof top deck where there were four other people who all knew each other sitting around a table drinking tea and smoking. I introduced myself and we made ex-pat chit-chat. Where are you from? What brings you to Istanbul? Oh.
“I’m from Wales,” said the girl next to me.
“Oh,” I said. She lit a cigarette. “I love Gavin and Stacey,” I added. “It’s one of my favorite shows.”
“Gawd, I can’t bloody stand that show,” she said, exhaling sharply.
“So are you training?” she asked.
“No, I’m interviewing,” I said. A moment later the woman in charge came up and greeted the other people at the table familiarly in a posh Manchester accent and hustled us all downstairs, into a classroom.
“You missed yesterday,” she said, “but you didn’t miss much. We’ll fill you in later. Today we’re going over how to do the second hour of instruction.”
“I- I think I’m just here to interview,” I said.
“Oh, I don’t believe in interviewing,” she said breezily. “Not for this sort of thing. You work here if we decide we like you, that’s all.” And she launched into a demonstration of how one teaches English by this particular method.
After she’d finished a mini-lesson we all had to do a mini-lesson one by one and pretend to be confused Turks when it was someone else’s turn. There was a break for tea and then we reviewed some of the salient points and she gave us tips for grabbing and holding a class’s attention.
I was beginning to grasp the education theory, but I still knew nothing about the school or the job beyond that no experience was necessary. And my tummy was grumbling in earnest.
“So, um,” I said, finally, “I’m sorry, but do you guys teach kids or adults here?”
“Adults,” she said.
“Oh. And, um what are the hours? And what’s the wage?”
“I don’t know what the wage is,” she said, “but you get paid hourly. And it’s part time, about ten hours a week. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 to 9:30.”
“Oh. And how long does training last?”
“About five days.” She beamed at the class. “You should all be working by next Wednesday or Thursday. So if there are no further questions I’ll see you all tomorrow.”


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